Users Guide: The Cyberpunk Genre

The following article is a continuation of the Genres in Gaming series of articles written to help players and GMs determine which games are available within the genres they want to play. The lists of systems contained throughout or by no means exhaustive. All game systems are listed within the sub-genre as I understand from the knowledge I have. If they are improperly categorized, please post a comment further explaining what the sub-genre should be and why.

The Gamers’ Guide to Tabletop Role-playing Genres is a fully published version of the Genres in Gaming series including all updates and additions and is available for the low price of $1.

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(Modern) Cyberpunk

The original design of Cyberpunk, what I’m calling Modern, came about with a near-future look at the world with an incorporation of cybernetics, artificial intelligence, and mega-corporations.  While the original systems placed Cyberpunk in roughly our current day and age, new systems have come out that move the near-future period out in an ever-moving fashion but still exhibit those same ideals from the original designs.  This means that high-technology is not being added, robotics are more realistic with modern day, weapons are often more familiar, and the system is appealing to those who just want a down-and-dirty cyberpunk feel.

This is what I refer to as a modern look at the Cyberpunk genre, similar to the popularity of Retro Fantasy.  While the timeline is not exactly modern, the technology is more reminiscent of what is available in our current modern day, the setting exhibits a realistic natural progression from our current modern day to that specific time, and the incorporation of other elements like fantasy or horror are non-existent.

The following systems are representative of (Modern) Cyberpunk and may have numerous published supplements. Each one is noted as the game system, game setting (where applicable), and publisher displayed as: System – Setting (Publisher).

  • Savage Worlds – Daring Tales of the Sprawl (Triple Ace Games)
  • Cyberpunk 2020 (Out-of-Print)
  • Ex Machina (Out-of-Print)
  • Cyberspace (Out-of-Print)

Science Fiction Cyberpunk

Science Fiction Cyberpunk takes the original design of Cyberpunk and kicks things up a notch with the inclusion of more science fiction.  This could range from weapons and technology, to robotics, equipment, and vehicles.  The timeline may be farther out than the modern take on Cyberpunk or possibly the world as we know it progresses faster than what is natural or even realistic.

However, the underlying themes of Cyberpunk still remain with the use of cybernetics, artificial intelligence, mega-corporations, etc… This keeps Science Fiction Cyberpunk systems and settings from being referred to under the Science Fiction genre as its just Cyberpunk with more stuff.

The following systems are representative of Science Fiction Cyberpunk and may have numerous published supplements. Each one is noted as the game system, game setting (where applicable), and publisher displayed as: System – Setting (Publisher).

Gothic Cyberpunk

Gothic Cyberpunk takes a very dystopian look at the world as it progresses through time.  This eventually ends up with a dark overlay being placed upon the system with elements like horror, chaos, or gothic supernatural beings.  Gothic Cyberpunk could exhibit mechanics for any other Cyberpunk sub-genre, but the overall theme is much darker and horrific.

The following systems are representative of Gothic Cyberpunk and may have numerous published supplements. Each one is noted as the game system, game setting (where applicable), and publisher displayed as: System – Setting (Publisher).

Fantasy Cyberpunk

Fantasy Cyberpunk is a little simpler to describe.  Take the traditional (Modern) Cyberpunk or Science Fiction Cyberpunk and add elements of Fantasy into them.  This could range from magic to fantastic races or fantastic creatures.  Whatever aspect is used, the regular elements of Cyberpunk still exist with an added piece of Fantasy.

The following systems are representative of Fantasy Cyberpunk and may have numerous published supplements. Each one is noted as the game system, game setting (where applicable), and publisher displayed as: System – Setting (Publisher).

Stay tuned for the continuation of the Genres in Gaming series of articles as I delve into the Post-Apocalyptic genre.

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